Several states that have legalized delta-9 THC markets have already banned its milder analog, delt-8 THC. However, both delta-9 and delta-8 products can be found in Washington state, which seems to be stirring up a bit of a rivalry.
According to a recent MJBizDaily article, delta-9 THC growers in the state are concerned that their industry could take a hit if federally legal delta-8 THC products are not permanently banned. Washington state has temporarily banned lab-created products that are made from hemp, but those products reportedly can still be found on the market.
The bulk of these concerns reportedly come from the cost difference. It reportedly is much cheaper to convert hemp-derived CBD into delta-8 THC than it is to grow delta-9 THC.
This topic has the state’s legal delta-9 industry so concerned that delta-9 business owners reportedly held a “deliberative dialogue” recently with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), which is the state’s cannabis regulatory agency.
Why is delta-8 THC cheaper than delta-9 THC?
Delta-9 THC grower Jeremy Moberg reportedly said during the meeting that that he feels the state is allowing a large amount of hemp to be imported into the state’s controlled-substance market. He was concerned that cheap, hemp-derived cannabinoids will cut growers like him out of the potential profits experienced by the rest of the supply chain if hemp products were allowed to compete with the existing delta-9 industry.
Reportedly, Washington state’s delta-9 THC market is much more established than the state’s current hemp market, which lags behind the hemp market of neighboring states. According to MJBizDaily, Washington state had only 182 licensed hemp businesses in 2020, while neighboring Oregon had 2,027 licensed growers and processors.
Also, under state law, CBD reportedly does not have to be produced in the state.
“The only way CBD can enter the system is if it is being added to a usable or edible marijuana product for the proposes of enhancing its cannabidiol concentration,” said Brian Smith, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesperson.
According the MJBizDaily, another important factor in this rivalry is the current oversupply of hemp around the country, which was spurred by the high level of interest from growers after hemp was federally legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. This oversupply has driven down the cost of that biomass, which furthers the divide between Washington state’s delta-9 industry and the hemp industry.
If THC is allowed, does the source material matter?
The competition between the two industries is complicated, but not all of the meeting’s participants view the competition as unhealthy.
“[W]e believe all THC is THC as long as it’s derived from the cannabis plant,” Vicki Christophersen reportedly said at the meeting. Christophersen is the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association.
Christophersen reportedly said that she would like to see all cannabis-derived THC products allowed on the state’s legal THC market. She added that it is not the state’s job to manage potential competition.
“We don’t think the regulators should be choosing winners and losers by how a licensee sources THC,” she said.
“Ultimately, the Washington CannaBusiness Association sides with the possibility for new products that hemp-derived THC offers,” reported MJBiz Daily.
The purpose of the meeting was simply to discuss the situation, so no new regulatory steps have been taken. However, the direction Washington state ultimately chooses to go could serve as a model for other states that are juggling the interests of an established legal delta-9 THC market against the interests of a growing hemp market.